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Return of right guard Marshal Yanda could stabilize banged-up Ravens offensive line

As happy as Ravens fans might have been that the team did not place Marshal Yanda on injured reserve, the five-time Pro Bowl right guard might have been even more relieved that his injured shoulder would not end his year with the team leading the AFC North with seven more games in the regular season.

"We're working through it, and we're trying to get back out there whenever I can," he said after participating in Wednesday's practice. "So I'm still practicing and just trying to fight my way back out there."

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Yanda's potential return to Sunday's game against the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys would be significant for an offensive line that knows it will not have starting rookie left guard Alex Lewis because of a high right ankle sprain.

John Urschel, who is expected to start for Lewis, started three games at left guard when Lewis shifted to left tackle for injured rookie Ronnie Stanley. Urschel said knowing that he is the starter indefinitely has not changed his approach.  

"It's always the type of deal where I'm trying to help the team however I can," he said. "If they need me, if someone goes down, I'm ready to go in. I take pride in being ready to go in when somebody gets hurt, and that's part of the deal. That's part of my job description."

The Ravens are poised to start their seventh different offensive line in the last seven weeks. But Urschel had lined up between Stanley and center Jeremy Zuttah in the preseason, and that familiarity will be key, coach John Harbaugh said, against a Cowboys defense that ranks third in the NFL against the run and eighth in points.

"You'd like to have your offensive line with some continuity," Harbaugh said. "I think you see that with them working together on those combination blocks, the calls, being on the same page – just the footwork, one guy working next to another guy and having the timing of the footwork where we don't step on one another, just something as simple as that. It's definitely a choreographed type of a thing with that offensive line. We're working toward that with the young guys [and] with the injuries."

Yanda has sat out three of the team's last four games because of his shoulder injury. He dismissed the notion that his return has been accelerated by the absence of Lewis.

"Obviously, I'm going to try to make it back no matter what happens," Yanda said. "That's just the player that I am. So I'm doing my best to try to get back whenever I can. There's no more added pressure. The pressure's always there, to play no matter what and try to be out there."

Yanda didn't discuss whether he will require surgery in the future. He also didn't give much weight to the idea that further rest would help.

"There's so many ways you can look at it, and there's so many ways you can approach it," he said. "The biggest thing is, I'm just trying to get back out there and play and play at a high level. So you can take it into and get into those what-if scenarios. I'm just trying to make it out there, and [the goal] is to play at a high level."

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